Jason Bartlett

What’s the hold up? Rays and Padres still haven’t finalized Jason Bartlett trade


It’s been six days since the Rays and Padres were said to have agreed upon a trade sending Jason Bartlett to San Diego for relievers Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell, yet the deal is still “on hold” and no one seems quite sure what’s going on.

According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune “a strange silence has fallen over both camps” and “calls and e-mails” to both teams “got no response” over the weekend.

What makes the whole thing particularly strange is that Bartlett revealed last Wednesday the Rays had contacted him to inform him of the trade, only to admit later that he actually learned of the supposed deal from a television report.

Center speculates that the trade could be contingent on the Padres working out a contract with Bartlett, who’s due for a raise to around $5 million via arbitration. He also speculates that perhaps someone raised a red flag regarding one of the two pitchers heading to Tampa Bay.

In the meantime several other shortstop options have either signed or been traded, leaving the Padres with significantly fewer choices to fill the position if the Bartlett deal ultimately falls through.

Monday, 7:23 PM: This isn’t confirmed by the team, but someone tipped off Jason Collette of Dock of the Rays that Cesar Ramos is currently listed on the 7-day disabled list for Hermosilo in the Mexican Winter League. A source told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune last Friday that the Rays wanted a second opinion on one of the pitchers involved in the trade, so this find could have some merit. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: This one just keeps getting weirder. Cesar Ramos told Dan Hayes of the North County Times that he is healthy and that he was only placed on the disabled list for his team in the Mexican Winter League in order to clear a roster spot. Ramos even tells Hayes that the Padres called him on Monday to make sure that he was healthy. Sounds like even they don’t know why this thing is on hold…

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

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Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.